Pioneered by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, Pilates is a form of exercise designed to enhance the balance between mind, body and spirit. It is low-impact and can be enjoyed by people of almost any fitness ability. Plus, its focus on postural alignment and balance can help you achieve better overall health and resolve many chronic aches and pains. Unfortunately, many people are intimidated to join a Pilates class. This may be for a variety of reasons, but fear of injury or concern over not being able to measure up to others are fairly common.
1. Practice Self Care
It is very important to take proper care of yourself if you want to benefit from any exercise program. While self care can mean a lot of things to different people, it generally includes eating right, staying hydrated and making sure you get enough rest. Start by upping your fluid intake. Try to limit drinks to primarily plain or fruit-infused water for the best results. You will avoid dehydration, flush toxins and metabolic waste from body systems and minimize food cravings that may actually be the result of thirst.
A balanced diet that focuses on plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is a key to success. They are packed with heart- and gut-healthy fiber and antioxidants to slow damage from free radicals. If that weren’t enough, many are also low in calories so they can be helpful in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. A morning smoothie with a scoop of red superfood powder is a great way to take advantage of those benefits even if you aren’t a huge fan of veggies.
Self-care is about more than what you put into your body.
Sleep is another important aspect of it. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep. However, your individual needs may vary. If you notice any signs of sleep deprivation, such as fatigue, confusion or irritability, make an effort to go to bed a bit earlier in the evening.
2. Stretch in Short Bursts
Although you will achieve maximum results with regular practice of full Pilates classes, many people find it is easier to incorporate short segments throughout the day. Because traditionalists of the classical Pilates style rely on very little equipment, usually just a mat and maybe a resistant band or tube, most exercises can be done pretty much anywhere you are. So, go ahead and stretch for five minutes before you start your day, take a short lunch-time Pilates break and then add a few more in before you get ready for bed.
3. Increase Mindfulness
Because Pilates is designed to foster the mind-body connection, practicing mindfulness may help you achieve better form and, therefore, results. Try adding a simple breath meditation or progressive muscle relaxation technique to your day. As you become more aware of each part of your body, it will become easier to isolate them during Pilates exercises.
4. Share Workouts With Friends
Pilates class can be very challenging. Sharing it with friends makes it more enjoyable so that you are more likely to continue your practice. Remember, on average it takes about two months to form a new habit, so you will need to be persistent in attending class before it becomes second nature.
5. Apply Pilates Principles to Daily Activities
Pilates principles focus on attention to and control over your body’s movements, deep and measured breathing and graceful, flowing movements. These can be applied to a variety of activities that go far beyond the gym. Pay attention to how you stand when you are waiting in line, concentrate on your core as you lift groceries and practice deep, full breathing when you are navigating a difficult task at work. You will find better posture and alignment in everyday life, plus better form in your next class.
There are many benefits of adding Pilates to your workout schedule. By incorporating its principle into daily activities, you should start to see results after just a few weeks of consistent practice, including improved balance, better posture, increased core strength, a deeper mind-body connection and better overall fitness.